State of deworming coverage and equity in low-income and middle-income countries using household health surveys: a spatiotemporal cross-sectional study.
Mass deworming against soil-transmitted helminthiasis, which affects 1 billion of the poorest people globally, is one of the largest public health programmes for neglected tropical diseases, and is intended to be equitable. However, the extent to which treatment programmes for deworming achieve equitable coverage across wealth class and sex is unclear and the public health metric of national deworming coverage does not include representation of equity. This study aims to measure both coverage and equity in global, national, and subnational deworming to guide future programmatic evaluation, investment, and metric design.
We used nationally representative, geospatial, household data from Demographic and Health Surveys that measured mother-reported deworming in children of preschool age (12-59 months). Deworming was defined as children having received drugs for intestinal parasites in the previous 6 months before the survey. We estimated deworming coverage disaggregated by geography, wealth quintile, and sex, and computed an equity index. We examined trends in coverage and equity index across countries, within countries, and over time. We used a regression model to compute the household correlates of deworming and ecological correlates of equitable deworming.
Our study included 820 883 children living in 50 countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe that are endemic for soil-transmitted helminthiasis using 77 Demographic and Health Surveys from December, 2003, to October, 2017. In these countries, the mean deworming coverage in preschool children was estimated at 33·0% (95% CI 32·9-33·1). The subnational coverage ranged from 0·5% to 87·5%, and within-country variation was greater than between-country variation. Of the 31 countries reporting that they reached the WHO goal of more than 75% national coverage, 30 had inequity in deworming, with treatment concentrated in wealthier populations. We did not detect systematic differences in deworming equity by sex.
Substantial inequities in mass deworming programmes are common as wealthier populations have consistently higher coverage than that of the poor, including in countries reporting to have reached the WHO goal of more than 75% national coverage. These inequities seem to be geographically heterogeneous, modestly improving over time, with no evidence of sex differences in inequity. Future reporting of deworming coverage should consider disaggregation by geography, wealth, and sex with incorporation of an equity index to complement the conventional public health metric of national deworming coverage.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University Medical Scientist Training Program.
Is Preventive Chemotherapy for NTDs Really “Pro-Poor?”: Insights from the Demographic and Health Surveys
To use DHS data from 40 countries to examine the extent to which deworming of children 1-4 years is associated with: 1) a range of individual- and family-related socioeconomic indicators, including wealth quintile and maternal education; and 2) access to health systems that could provide opportunities for deworming, independent of family-level socioeconomic status.